Monday, 15 September 2014

Kids Come With Pets

Kids Come With Pets


When I was a child we didn’t have pets. We had dogs who lived outside (because that’s how thing roll in Ukraine) but those could hardly count as pets. However, we never had cats, hamsters, fishes and anything else that qualified as pets.
As a result I grew up vaguely fond of dogs and without any urges to stroke or even touch an animal, let alone bring it into my house. No, no, no! I like my life simple and pet free.
So when I agreed to look after the boys for three days I tried to ignore the fact that it wouldn’t be just the three of us in the house – a hamster Nibbles, and two cats, Pinot and Grigio, had to be added.
The boys and I quickly struck a deal – I look after the boys and the boys look after the animals. And the looking after meant litter trays, feeding and keeping the pets as far away from me as possible.
It all started very well until I remembered that Mr Chateauneaf asked me to clean the hamster’s cage with Little Dude. After tough negotiations we agreed that we would clean it at 3pm on a Monday afternoon and bake cookies afterwards.
We started just after 3pm by bringing the cage downstairs – hamster and all. Having safely detached Nibbles from his cage, DeeQ (aka big brother, also the only person who could touch the hamster) put him into a hamster ball and was now in charge of looking after him and keeping him away from the cats. Little Dude and I started cleaning the cage.
We opened the bottom part of the cage and were just about to empty it when the cats arrived, smelling the hamster. They are at an age when they chase flies, eat butterflies and play with dead voles in the garden. The latter is particularly unpleasant as I found out the day before while trying to eat my lunch in the garden with the boys. That day I also discovered that I had developed musophobia (the technical term for I-hate-mice-rats-and-any-other-rodents) having successfully tipped my lunch over, after one of the cats deposited a dead vole at my feet.
But Little Dude was unfazed by the cats. Skilfully moving them out of his way he emptied the cage contents into the black sack. He then emptied all the layers of the cage, filled them up with fresh shavings and proudly announced that ‘he always cleans the cage and daddy puts it back together again’.
Now, I can bake bread from scratch and I fluently speak three languages, but putting a hamsters cage back together required a skill I did not possess. The hamsters wheel ended up on the roof, the tube kept falling apart and was too short to connect the top and the bottom levels; and I had a pile of nuts and bolts, a new wrinkle and a bunch of grey hairs – all of which were not there when we started.
I had to admit defeat and called DeeQ to the rescue who fixed the damn thing in no time while casually chatting to me and stroking the cats, who were circling us like sharks wondering where the hamster was.
Later that evening we of course baked cookies, the only expertise I did have. I then cooked dinner which was significantly less of a success – mainly because living a single gal lifestyle meant I survived on bags of salad and an occasional take away. Cooking a homemade meal for three scratched the rusty surface off a skill that hadn’t been in use for years.
Much later that night, exhausted but satisfied I’d managed to keep the boys, the cats and the hamster all happy, fed and alive. I kissed the boys good night, tucked them into beds and poured myself a large glass of wine.
As I settled on the couch with The Big Bang theory, I couldn’t help but wonder…. Two hours later I woke up still holding my glass of wine.